If you had to choose which of these caused more deaths — floods, tornadoes, hurricanes or heat — which would you pick?
Those who have lived through sweltering Southern summers would probably say heat, and they’d be right. In fact, extreme heat causes more deaths each year than the other three combined, according to statistics.
One of the groups most at risk are senior citizens, yet organizations dedicated to senior care worry that the golden age set isn’t heeding heat warnings.
A study from Kent State University found that 90 percent of those polled, over the age of 65, were aware of heat alerts but thought the messages were targeted toward “older Americans,” a group they don’t consider themselves part.
Friends, family and neighbors are encouraged to check on people who are 65 and older, especially if they live alone.
Physical changes are one reason seniors are more susceptible to high temperature, along with economic burdens of a fixed income.
Fans are one way to alleviate the heat.
East Cooper Community Outreach in Mount Pleasant donates square floor fans to those in need, says Sandra Brandl, a senior case manager.
People can also call their local Catholic Charities organization for help.
Here are some other suggestions from Senior Helpers on how to stay cool:
- Stay well hydrated — As adults age, the amount of water retained by the body decreases substantially.”
- Maintain a cool environment — John Tuckwiller, owner of Carolina Air in Beaufort, suggested window tinting, or keeping the shades closed. He also said to check filters once a month.
- Stay inside — The hottest part of the day is from 3-5 p.m.
- Eat light — Heavy meals make the body work harder to digest, using more water and generating more body heat .
- Follow new sunscreen guidelines — Seniors are more prone to sunburn because their bodies have less water. Re-apply sunscreen every two hours for it to work effectively.
- Health care information — In the event of an emergency, make sure prescriptions, health insurance card, and doctors’ phone numbers are on hand.